MORE DEATH THREATS AT RUSSIAN TELEVISION NETWORKS.
Police sources say
prominent figures at various Russian television networks have received death
threats after giving evidence on the 1 March murder of television journalist
Vladislav Listev, Interfax reported on 21 March. Listev was involved in the
controversial restructuring of Ostankino Channel One and in implementing new
advertising rules at Russian Public Television. Since Listev's murder, the
lives of other Russian Public Television employees have been threatened, the
police said. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA COMMISSION TO EXAMINE "CRISIS" IN RUSSIAN TELEVISION.
commission led by Yabloko Deputy Igor Yakovenko is studying proposals to end
the "crisis" in Russian television, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 22
March. A movement to halt the controversial reorganization of Ostankino Channel
One into Russian Public Television is gaining momentum. Under the restructuring
plan, which Yeltsin decreed in November 1994, Ostankino would become a
production company, while Russian Public Television would control all Channel
One broadcasting. Yakovenko warned that Russian Public Television would only
represent the interests of the government and the hand-picked corporations that
were allowed to purchase 49% of the company's shares. He recommended that the
old, state-run Ostankino company and Russian Public Television share
programming on Channel One instead. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
ILYUSHENKO ASKS DUMA FOR PERMISSION TO SUE MAVRODI.
Russia's acting prosecutor-general, has asked the Duma for permission to take
legal action against Sergei Mavrodi, president of the MMM investment company
and a parliament member, Russian and Western agencies reported on 21 March.
Mavrodi is wanted on charges of tax evasion on the massive profits he made from
the MMM pyramid investment scheme, which cheated thousands of Russians out of
their savings. He was held in custody for several months in 1994 before winning
election to the Duma in October, which gave him immunity from prosecution. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
RYABOV RE-ELECTED AS CHAIRMAN OF ELECTORAL COMMISSION.
has been re-elected chairman of the Electoral Commission, Interfax reported on
21 March. In supporting his candidacy, commission member Yury Vedeneev
described him as a "cunning Russian man who is building Russian statehood,
sometimes quietly, sometimes with a push." Yeltsin originally appointed Ryabov
to the office in October 1993. The commission will enforce the proposed
electoral law which is still under discussion in the Federal Assembly. The
Duma's version of the electoral law, adopted on 15 March, will require all
parties to collect signatures, not just those which are not currently
represented in the Duma as earlier reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
ROSSIISKAYA GAZETA CRITICIZES PARTY OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY.
March issue of Rossiiskaya gazeta carries an article arguing that
Alexander Yakovlev's Party of Social Democracy is not the pro-presidential
party many observers initially thought it to be. The article is particularly
critical of the leader of the Moscow branch of the party, Yevgeny Savostyanov,
who "is clearly not meant for a presidential party." The paper claims that he
belongs, instead, in the Guinness Book of Records as the bureaucrat who was
removed by the president in the shortest time. Rossiiskaya gazeta
asserts that he is part of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's team and close to the
Most bank, which was raided by the president's security service on 2 December.
Yeltsin and Luzhkov have been engaged in a long-running feud which has prompted
the mayor to threaten resignation. Moreover, the paper criticized the new party
for not listing Russia's Democratic Choice among its potential allies. The
reason apparently is that Oleg Boiko, who has strong ties to Russia's Choice,
has business interests that compete with Most bank. The article described Boiko
as an ally of Yeltsin and pointed out that although Russia's Democratic Choice
has been critical of Yeltsin, many of its members still support him. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
FINANCE MINISTRY NOT TO ISSUE TREASURY BILLS IN 1996.
Finance Ministry plans to halt the issuance of treasury bills by the end of the
first quarter of 1996, Finance Minister Vladimir Panskov told the Financial
Information Agency on 21 March. Panskov emphasized that the bills will be
gradually withdrawn as the debts on them are repaid. According to Panskov,
treasury bills serve as a "money surrogate" and are increasingly unprofitable
for the state. Panskov stressed that his ministry will promote the circulation
of stocks and state short-term bonds. Prior to this announcement, Deputy
Finance Minister Andrei Kazmin told the Financial Information Agency that the
ministry planned to issue 7 trillion rubles worth of treasury bills in 1995.
The Russian government published a resolution on 9 August 1994 defining the
main conditions for treasury bills. The bills were intended to serve as the
government's main tool to solve non-payment crisis. The bills are widely used
because owners are entitled to a number of tax privileges under existing
legislation. Since last fall, the Finance Ministry has distributed treasury
bills worth about 7 trillion rubles. About 3 trillion rubles worth of those
bills have already been redeemed. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
BUDGET DEBATE IN FEDERATION COUNCIL.
Russia's 1995 budget, passed by the
State Duma on 15 March, is currently under debate by the Federation Council
which must give final approval before it becomes a law, Russian agencies
reported on 21 March. According to Deputy Economy Minister Yakov Urinson, the
heaviest criticism of the draft came from the Agrarian block ministers, who are
pushing for more agriculture credits. Finance Minister Panskov rejected the
Agrarian members' criticism that agriculture is underfinanced, noting that in
the draft budget, agriculture has been allocated about 30% more than other
industries. Meanwhile, Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin presented a draft
economic program for 1995-97 to the Federation Council on 21 March. The program
will be submitted to the Russian Federation Cabinet of Ministers in the Kremlin
on 24 March. The program is designed to restore economic growth through
financial stabilization. Yasin proposed direct stimulation of effective
investments on the part of the state as the "buzzword" for the next three
years. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
UNIONS WILL STAGE DAY OF PROTEST ON 12 APRIL.
Russian workers will go
ahead with a 12 April nationwide day of protest against delays in wage
payments, Russian and Western agencies reported on 21 March. Noting that the
government owes industrial, construction, and farm workers 5.6 trillion rubles
($1.2 billion) in back pay, Alexei Surikov, deputy chairman of the Russian
Federation of Independent Trade Unions, said workers will picket government
buildings across the country. The problem of late payments has been exacerbated
by inflation, which means that salaries are worth much less by the time workers
receive them. Surikov said that production in many regions has ground to a
halt, while a union leader in the defense industry warned that Russia was on
the verge of losing that industry altogether. A day of protest staged by unions
on 27 October 1994 brought few results. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
KOZYREV WARMS TO NATO-RUSSIAN SECURITY PACT.
Russian Foreign Minister
Andrei Kozyrev has expressed interest in signing a security pact with NATO,
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told AFP on 21 March after their meeting.
However, Kozyrev expressed concern that Russia has not been involved in the
discussions on such a pact. In addition, he said he would like to see progress
in four areas of Russia's relationship with NATO: an agreement on an overall
European security architecture in which NATO has a place; a mechanism for joint
consultation and decisions between Russia and NATO; military cooperation "so
that nothing occurs that could worry the other side"; and "military-technical
cooperation, interaction in the creation of armaments systems, and competition
in armaments markets." If cooperation is achieved in those four areas, Kozyrev
said, "We will have the feeling that NATO is not a hostile force from
ideological, political, and military-technical positions, but a perfectly
friendly force with which we can cooperate." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
KOZYREV STRESSES CENTRAL IMPORTANCE OF OSCE.
Speaking at the European
Stability Pact Conference on 20 March, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
stressed the OSCE's central importance to the European security order. He said
the arrangement reached between Russia and Latvia over military pensioners and
the Russian radar station at Skrunda is probably the first time the OSCE has
supported the implementation of bilateral agreements. According to Kozyrev, the
fact that the pact will be "taken over by the OSCE" signifies that the
organization has assumed its rightful place in Europe. -- Michael Mihalka,
VIEWS OF TURKISH INCURSION INTO NORTHERN IRAQ.
In what Turkish
authorities have described as the "largest" offensive ever undertaken in the
history of the republic, some 35,000 troops advanced 40 kilometers into
northern Iraq on 20 March in an attempt to "eliminate terrorist bases" of the
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) located there. International reaction to the
operation has been divided. The European Union, France, Cyprus, and Norway have
been critical. Russia, like the United States and Iran, have essentially
endorsed it. On 21 March, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigory Karasin
said, "We are talking about a one-off action, limited in time and space, which
has as its goal as the destruction of bases and strongholds of Kurdish
extremists carrying out an armed struggle against Turkey . . . We consider it
to be an internal affair of the states concerned," Reuters reported. It has
appeared since mid-1993 that Russia was tacitly supporting the Kurdish
separatists as a lever against Turkish support for various Turkic or Muslim
groups dwelling in Russia. The Russian government's current position on the
Kurds may signal that a quid pro quo has been reached. While a Chechen-Kurdish
horse-trade is not inconceivable, it is likelier that both sides agreed to
refrain from supporting separatist activities directed at the territorial
integrity of the other state. Official casualty figures contrast sharply. A
spokesman for Turkey's general staff said 24 terrorists and eight soldiers have
died while Turkish Defense Minister Mehmet Golhan cited 200 terrorists dead and
no Turkish losses. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
KAZAKH DEPUTIES END HUNGER STRIKE.
Olzhas Suleimenov, leader of the
Kazakh Alternative Assembly, said the former deputies had officially ended
their hunger strike and their occupation of the parliament building as of 21
March, AFP reported. Suleimenov went on to say, "We will reorganize ourselves
into a public association, the People's Assembly, to prepare laws which we will
submit to the president's experts." While never strong, support for the
ex-deputies has diminished daily. Earlier, they demanded a meeting with
President Nursultan Nazarbaev to request keeping their privileges--such as
government cars and in some cases furnished apartments--until the next
elections. In a poll conducted on 18 March, only 15.5% of Almaty residents said
the Supreme Soviet should continue to work, an RFE/RL correspondent reported.
-- Bruce Pannier and Bess Brown, OMRI, Inc.
GRACHEV IN TBILISI.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev met with
Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze and then with Georgian Defense
Ministry officials in Tbilisi on 21 March, according to Interfax on 21 March
and Krasnaya zvezda on 22 March. The talks focused on the terms of an
agreement for the maintenance of three Russian military bases in Georgia, the
creation of a Transcaucasus air defense system (despite the reluctance of
Azerbaijan to participate), and the situation in Abkhazia. Grachev subsequently
told journalists that both Russia and Georgia had recently made new
(unspecified) proposals on a settlement of the Abkhaz conflict. Meeting on 21
March, representatives of five opposition parties in the Georgian parliament
denounced the talks as lacking legitimacy and called for the annulment of all
agreements on military cooperation with Russia, including the base agreement,
Interfax reported. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT ORDERS CRIMEA TO SUBMIT NEW CONSTITUTION BY
The Ukrainian parliament on 21 March adopted a resolution ordering
the Crimean legislature to submit a new constitution by 15 May, Reuters and
Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. Legislators, who annulled the existing
Crimean constitution last week, also empowered prosecutors to act against
Crimean legislation that may violate Ukrainian law. But they stopped short of
giving Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma additional powers to impose limits on
the authority of the Crimean government. Meanwhile, Crimean parliamentary
speaker Serhii Tsekov said the Crimean Constitution will remain in effect until
Crimean authorities decide how to respond to Kiev's move. In related news,
Oleksander Razumkov, a top Kuchma aide, told Interfax that stability in Crimea
could be promoted if the Ukrainian leadership gave clear guarantees on
preserving the autonomy of the region and allowing Crimean authorities to make
independent decisions on economic issues. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI,
UKRAINIAN ARMS IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
During a visit to Abu-Dhabi
beginning 20 March, Ukrainian Minister of Machine-Building, Conversion, and the
Military-Industrial Complex Viktor Petrov signed an agreement with the United
Arab Emirates on economic, trade, and technical cooperation. At an exhibit of
military hardware, Ukraine displayed its T-84 tank, which is produced in
Kharkiv and reported to be superior to Russia's T-80. It hopes to sell the tank
to Middle East customers as well as Pakistan and India. Aleksandr Kotyolkin,
the head of Russia's largest arms exporting firm Rozvooruzheniya, said that the
Ukrainian tank was of top quality but would have greater export potential if
Kiev would allow Russia to participate in the project. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT URGES PARLIAMENT TO BE SUSPENDED.
Lukashenka, addressing the parliament on 21 March, called for the legislature
to be disbanded and a referendum held on extending his powers and increasing
integration with Russia, Belarusian radio reported. Deputies jeered at
Lukashenka during his speech, while Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Mechyslau
Hryb rejected the proposal to suspend the parliament and said a referendum was
unnecessary. Lukashenka wants his powers extended so that he can dissolve the
parliament. He criticized deputies for frequently not attending parliament
sessions and obstructing economic reform. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
RULING COALITION STILL UNCLEAR IN ESTONIA.
The election of Reform Party
deputy Toomas Savi as parliament chairman on 21 March has highlighted the
failure of the Coalition Party and Rural Union (KMU) alliance to form a ruling
coalition, BNS reported. The KMU voted for Rightist Party deputy Ulo Nugis,
with whom it had forged an alliance. The KMU had also held unsuccessful
coalition talks with the Reform Party, which joined the Center Party, the
Moderates, and Pro Patria/National Independence Party Union to form a small
coalition to elect Savi. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES CHURCH PROPERTY LAW.
The Seimas on 21 March
voted by 46 to 35 with two abstentions to amend the law on the restoration of
Church property, passed on 19 January, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported.
President Algirdas Brazauskas on 1 February sent the law back to the Seimas
with suggested amendments. Many deputies of the ruling Lithuanian Democratic
Labor said the amendments gave religious communities unwarranted privileges,
while the opposition argued that they did not go far enough to restore the
rights the Churches lost during the Soviet occupation. -- Saulius Girnius,
BALTIC DEFENSE COMMANDERS IN LITHUANIA.
Maj. Gen. Aleksander Einseln
(Estonia), Col. Juris Dalbins (Latvia), and Gen. Jonas Andriskevicius met in
Vilnius on 21-22 March, BNS reported. They discussed the creation of unified
military communications and air space control systems, setting up the Baltic
Peacekeeping Battalion, exercise training, and participation in NATO's
Partnership for Peace program. No date was set for the start up of the systems,
which would require substantial government spending or foreign assistance. The
commanders also visited units of the Lithuanian Voluntary Defense Service and
the motorized infantry brigade Iron Wolf. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI,
POLISH BACK-BITING CONTINUES.
Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, responding to
President Lech Walesa's ultimatum on 20 March giving the government two months
to show results, said he intended to invite Walesa to present his ideas on how
to solve Poland's problems, Rzeczspospolita reported. The government
would offer a timetable of its plans within a week, Oleksy said. Deputy Prime
Minister and Finance Minister Grzegorz Kolodko was more blunt, telling
reporters that "the government is doing far more than Mr President." He added
that "the government may have only two months but the president certainly has
no more than seven" (a reference to upcoming presidential elections).
Presidential spokesman Leszek Spalinski said such comments did not bode well
for cooperation. But he also made a rare effort to tone down Walesa's initial
criticism, arguing that the president's remarks were taken out of context. The
government has not yet adopted a formal position on the Constitutional
Tribunal's ruling on the 1995 tax rates, but public administration chief Marek
Borowski estimated on 21 March that a Sejm decision to uphold the verdict would
mean $770 million in lost revenues. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH GOVERNMENT MOVES AGAINST CRIME.
An additional 15 million zloty
($6.4 million) has been allocated from general reserves to fight crime, Radio
Warsaw reported on 21 March. Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski
conceded that "mafia-like structures" were taking root in Poland and said the
government will ask the Sejm to reconsider legislation allowing plea bargaining
and permitting "sting" operations. The parliament rejected such proposals last
year. Justice Minister Jerzy Jaskiernia said the government will ask that the
maximum prison sentence be raised from 25 years to life imprisonment. Harsher
punishments will be requested for attacks on judges and prosecutors, extortion,
and robbery. Also, an armed court police will be formed. Coalition deputies
pledged to consider the new legislation before the summer recess, while police
unionists criticized the new funds as insufficient and said they will continue
their month-old protest. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
KLAUS, OTHER CZECH GOVERNMENT LEADERS LOSE SUPPORT.
Czech Prime Minister
Vaclav Klaus's popularity rating has continued to fall, according to a poll
conducted by the Center for Empirical Research and published on 22 March. He is
now only one point ahead of opposition leader Milos Zeman. Other government
ministers also lost support in the poll. The biggest drop (eight points) was
registered by Deputy Prime Minister Jan Kalvoda, head of the Civic Democratic
Alliance (ODA), which is embroiled in financial scandals. But the ODA's
Vladimir Dlouhy, Minister for Trade and Industry, stayed at the top of the poll
with an 85% rating, He was followed by Jiri Dienstbier of the extraparliament
Free Democrats (76%), Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec (72%), Transport
Minister Jan Strasky (59%), Klaus (56%), and Zeman (55%). -- Steve Kettle,
SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES "CLEAN HANDS" PROGRAM.
The Slovak government on
21 March approved its "clean hands" program, designed to fight corruption,
Praca reports. The cabinet also dealt with programs to assist small and
medium-size businesses as well as regions with high unemployment. The cabinet
continued to boycott its traditional press conferences. Press officers from the
Ministries of Interior and Economy reported on the government session instead
of the ministers themselves. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
ARMS PLANE HELD IN AZORES IS FROM UKRAINE.
The Antonov-124 cargo jet
detained in the Azores on 23 March because it was carrying arms rather than its
declared cargo of medicine is from Ukraine, not Russia, as first reported.
Reuters on 21 March said the Portuguese authorities released the aircraft to
return to its country of origin but the pilot had not yet taken off because of
problems in obtaining overflight clearances. The Czech news agency CTK reported
that the plane was carrying arms from Slovakia bound for Ecuador. It quoted the
chairman of the Slovak weapons export commission as saying the arms shipment to
Ecuador had been properly licensed. Portuguese officials said the An-124 had
taken off in Kiev and landed in Bratislava. From there, it flew to the Azores
to refuel en route to South America. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
"THESE BARBARIANS ONLY UNDERSTAND FORCE."
This is what Bosnian Vice
President Ejup Ganic told AFP on 21 March to explain his government's fresh
offensive against Serbian positions in the center and north of the republic.
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic warned that the government must stop its
attacks or face "consequences," the Los Angeles Times reports on 22
March. The New York Times and Vjesnik say that Serbs have
reclaimed heavy weapons stored with the UN near Sarajevo. The French and
British peacekeepers guarding the facilities did not resist. Also near the
Bosnian capital, Serbs released a Russian UN military observer they have held
since 18 March for spying. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CROATIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES LIVE TV BROADCASTS.
The Croatian lower
house, or Sabor, on 21 March discussed the recent decision by the
government-run radio and television network (HTV) to end live coverage of
parliament debates. Since the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) has
a virtual monopoly on the electronic media and most of the press, the
opposition has counted on the live sessions to make its views known. Hina said
that some HDZ legislators would agree to live radio coverage and denied that
their party was behind HTV's move. Also in Zagreb, nine Croats received Yad
Vashem's Righteous Gentile medals for saving Jews during the Holocaust. Only
8,000 of Croatia's and Bosnia's 39,000 Jews survived the terror at the hands of
the Nazis and the Croatian Ustasa regime. Some 50 Croats and Bosnians
have received the Yad Vashem award to date, Western news agencies reported. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SERBIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT'S DEMISE.
Nasa Borba on
22 March reports that opposition forces in the federal rump Yugoslav parliament
have again called for the government, dominated by the Socialist Party of
Serbia, to be disbanded. The opposition alleges that the SPS has violated the
federal constitution through such acts as repressing the independent media. One
opposition member was quoted as saying "The government must fall because the
government's strangulation of [the once independent daily] Borba is a
political attack on the independent media." Federal Premier Radoje Kontic
rejected those charges. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN WORKERS PROTEST IN BUCHAREST.
Tens of thousands of workers
rallied on 21 March in Bucharest to protest both unemployment and a government
order that they claim is aimed at freezing wages at the November 1994 level.
The rally, the third large workers' protest in Bucharest within a week, was
organized by Romania's main trade unions. One of those unions, the National
Trade Union Bloc, told the press that given the government's refusal to respond
to the workers' demands, it will stage rallies on 22 March not only in the
capital but also in many other Romanian cities. In other news, the Chamber of
Deputies on 21 March voted 183 to 110 to approve the law on accelerating
privatization, Radio Bucharest reported. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN STUDENTS PROTEST GOVERNMENT DECISION ON HISTORY TEACHING.
Bucharest, citing the BBC, reported on 21 March that Moldovan students and
university teachers from all institutes of higher education went on strike to
protest the Ministry of Education's 16 March decision to replace courses on the
history of the Romanian people with one on the history of Moldova. Reuters
estimated the number of demonstrators at 10,000. The protesters also demanded
higher wages and scholarships as well as the resignation of the minister of
education. Citing Moldpres, Radio Bucharest said the Moldovan government
discussed the situation. Deputy Prime Minister Grigore Ojog and Education
Minister Petru Gaugaj met with representatives of the protesters, who demanded
that the new law be abolished as a preliminary condition for starting
negotiations. Reuters quoted Ojog as saying the protesters "were manipulated by
certain political forces that do not want stability in our country." -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN MILITARY EQUIPMENT LEAVES MOLDOVA.
Lt. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed,
commander of the Russian 14th Army in Moldova, told Interfax on 20 March that
two trainloads of Russian military equipment left Rybnitsa, in northeastern
Moldova, for Russia early this month. Lebed said the trains carried surplus
equipment, noting that his forces had nine times as much as it could man and
use. He added that 21 trainloads of equipment would have to be returned to
Russia. Last month, military authorities said that more than 350,000 tons of
equipment and ammunition would leave Moldova. The withdrawal was suspended
while transit arrangements were made with Ukraine. Lebed emphasized that none
of his troops were about to be pulled out. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT ISSUES "WHITE BOOK."
A "White Book on the Country's
Situation," issued by the Bulgarian government on 21 March, says that GDP fell
by 24.4% from 1989-1994 and industrial production by 49.3%, Duma
reported the same day. Consumer prices soared by 3,700%, and some 73% of the
population are living below the poverty line. The authors of the book ask all
political forces to cooperate in order to resolve the critical situation.
Deputy Prime Minister Doncho Konakchiev said the document was issued by the
government and was not approved by the Bulgarian Socialist Party,
Standart reported on 22 March. Demokratsiya, however, accused the
Socialists of trying to blame the Union of Democratic Forces for Bulgaria's
problems. Former UDF Chairman Filip Dimitrov was cited by 24 chasa as
saying that "this is exactly what one can expect from a communist government."
-- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT TO CHANGE EDUCATION LAW?
Yuriy Borisov, chairman of
the parliament Commission on Science and Education and a member of the ruling
Bulgarian Socialist Party, has proposed a change in the education law, 24
chasa reported on 21 March. The law lifts a ban on former communist
academics from holding posts in governing bodies of universities, research
institutes, and the Central Examination Board. It also stipulates that new
elections to these bodies take place by 30 October. Borisov proposed
eliminating this stipulation. The law was vetoed on 9 March by President Zhelyu
Zhelev, who said it violates the autonomy of academic institutions. Also on 21
March, Zhelev vetoed a law on the environment, dpa reported the same day. The
legislation provides for the construction of projects of "national importance"
without consideration of environmental damage. Environmentalists fear this may
lead to the construction of a second nuclear power plant near the town of
Belene. Work on that project was halted in 1990 following pressure from the
environmental group Ekoglasnost. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
GREECE DEMANDS GESTURE OF GOODWILL FROM MACEDONIA.
Evangelos Venizelos on 21 March said that if Macedonia does not show "tangible
signs" of goodwill, Greece will not lift the embargo, AFP reported the same
day. He was quoted as saying that it is understandable that Skopje would like
to have the embargo lifted--"just as it is evident that we would prefer not to
have to deal with Skopje's provocations." Greek Foreign Minister Karolos
Papoulias on 19 March announced that direct talks between the two countries
will begin in April, but he said the embargo will remain in force during the
talks. Macedonia on 20 March said it will take part in the discussions only if
the embargo is lifted. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
GREECE RECALLS DIPLOMAT FROM ALBANIA.
Greece has recalled a diplomat
from Tirana who had pamphlets from the Northern Epirus Liberation Front (MAVI)
inciting separatism for Albania's ethnic Greek minority, Reuters reported on 21
March. Greek embassy staff discovered the pamphlets shortly before Greek
Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias's visit to Albania on 13 and 14 March. Greek
officials did not confirm whether there is a link between the diplomat and the
seven armed MAVI members arrested near the Albanian border on 19 March. Greece
police, meanwhile, are investigating whether the numbers on Kalashnikovs found
in the MAVI members' car match those on weapons stolen during a MAVI-terrorist
attack on an Albanian border camp in April 1994. Two Albanian soldiers were
killed in that raid. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
AMNESTY IN ALBANIA.
President Sali Berisha has announced that the
sentences of Nexhmije Hoxha, widow of the Albanian communist leader Enver
Hoxha, and Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano have been cut by two years,
Reuters reported on 21 March. The move was part of an amnesty for 40 prisoners
on the eve of the anniversary of Berisha's election victory, on 22 March 1992.
Hoxha was sentenced to 12 years in prison for embezzlement, but her term was
reduced by one-third in the fall of 1994. She now has to serve three years and
four months. Nano will have to spend another four years and ten months in
prison for abuse of office and misappropriating state funds. -- Fabian Schmidt,
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave